WHILE it was under fire from all sides for its management's attempt to silence a popular sports presenter's comments on social media ("Gary Lineker to return to Match of the Day after BBC apology", heraldscotland, March 13), the BBC broadcast a programme, File on Four: Missing Migrant Children" (Radio 4, March 12). Far from demonising vulnerable migrants, this helped explain why they had come to Britain, and the hazards they now face in the absence of any realistic immigration policy.

We have a strange mismatch between the welcome given to Ukrainian refugees, while obstacles are raised to refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, for example.

Are they not also victims of war, and now the earthquake affecting northern Syria? Why are vulnerable youths threatened with deportation to Rwanda at great expense by a Home Secretary whose own family was obliged to flee east Africa?

How would deportation flights operate: would refugees be handcuffed? How would they be fed? What facilities or opportunities could they expect in Rwanda?

I had an Eritrean colleague in London in the 1980s; he had become a refugee when his country was at war with Ethiopia. He was a diligent, decent gentleman, who had initially worked unpaid until his refugee status was approved.

Is there not a better solution? Britain and France could create training facilities and technical colleges to prepare the refugees to contribute to the host countries' economies, addressing labour shortages.
Graeme Orr, Neilston

Why has Scots scheme been paused?

THE three contenders for SNP leader and First Minister have all been quick to condemn the UK Government's proposals for dealing with the "small boats" crisis. Stephen Flynn, the SNP's leader in Westminster, called the measures a "complete and utter disgrace". They say we need more inward migration for Scotland to prosper.

This being the case, why then has the so-called Super Sponsor scheme for displaced Ukrainians been paused? The scheme was instituted with great fanfare by the Scottish Government in an effort to appear more virtuous and caring than the UK Government's scheme. By July 2022, it had to be paused for three months.

The Scottish Government website said "a temporary suspension is needed to ensure safe accommodation can continue to be provided for those who have already applied and may now travel to Scotland". Nearly eight months later it is still paused, despite the chartering of cruise ships and other measures to house people.

If the Scottish Government is unable to provide the basic necessities for people fleeing a war and arriving under an approved scheme, with all their paperwork in order, how does it plan to support large numbers of people arriving unannounced, uncontrolled and undocumented?

Unsurprisingly none of the candidates has addressed this issue – unless of course it is a simple case of "take them off the small boats and put them on big ships – uncompleted ferries perhaps".This is typical of the SNP: big on rhetoric, small on delivery.
Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen

Read more letters: The best place to help migrants is in the countries they come from

Don't fall for the deflection

NOW that the dust is settling from the Gary Lineker situation it is clear that there are more questions than answers.

For example, how do we square freedom of speech with loyalty to an employer – when that employer is not exactly employing a self-employed individual and how can we force that individual to toe the party line when they are a using a personal, individual Twitter account? These things are difficult.

Secondly we should applaud the Government and the BBC communication people for the skilful way in which they have successfully diverted the nub of this issue to “Gary Lineker”. A master stroke.

I also think the whole situation amplifies the difference between many – not all – Scots and many English people in relation to the people – yes, people – arriving on these small boats.

The Government would have us believe that gangs of criminals, murderers and rapists are on these boats and they must be stopped at all costs.

It is trying to do this by paying £500 million to France, which presumably makes the £150m already paid to Rwanda redundant assuming France is successful. I wonder if anyone has considered that they may simply just move along to Belgian or Dutch beaches?

On the other hand many of us recognise that many of the people on these boats may be former Afghan interpreters who risked their lives and were then badly let down by us, also people escaping tyranny, sexual exploitation, murder and terrorism in their own countries.

These people will have travelled through multiple countries and may actually bring a unique skill set if given the chance. I have been impressed by the group of Syrians who have settled on the Isle of Bute and opened a bakery and coffee shop.

Many of us will be haunted by the recent image of the very young child lying dead on a Mediterranean beach. By no stretch of the imagination could he ever be considered to be a criminal, murderer or rapist.

Like many things in life, there are often two sides to a story.

My idea of an independent Scotland is of one that is open, transparent, welcoming and inclusive.
Stewart Falconer, Alyth

• I WOULD like to make it clear that I fully support Gary Lineker’s recent tweet, largely because it is largely in accord with my position on this matter. I’m sure he will be delighted by the First Minister’s support, although I would question whether he would enjoy the same support if he were to use his position to criticise the Scottish Government. It wouldn’t, of course, be politics without a large dose of hypocrisy.
Paul Teenan, Glasgow

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It's win-win for unionists

APPARENTLY many nationalists are suspicious of wide support for Kate Forbes among No voters.

It's quite straightforward: thousands, like me, just want Scotland to be run well.

We want currently-untouchable core issues debated and solutions hammered out. They include unbelievable violence in schools and its impact on education delivery, teacher morale and quality of the next workforce; lack of personal responsibility, for example obesity and its impact on the NHS, and action on getting numbers of economically inactive people back to work, including the 10 per cent of 18-24-year-olds who plan never to work.

Kate Forbes, from her hustings performances, seems to be a rare example of an SNP politician with the desire, ability and principles (as opposed to religious conviction) who is willing to make a start on fixing 24 years of devolved drift and decline and happy to recognise her own party's major culpability.

In fact we No voters can't lose. If Humza Yousaf wins, independence will be in the morgue for years. If Ms Forbes wins I'd hope the headlines and support she gets might finally encourage pro-Union politicians into creating their own policies for the issues bedevilling Scotland before she wins the next election in 2026, takes full control, fully cleans out the SNP policy, scandal and ability detritus and convinces voters that independence could be a sensible, worked-out option.

A Forbes win will be a much bigger challenge to Messrs Sarwar, Ross and Cole-Hamilton than the comfort-zone coconut shy that Mr Yousaf presents and the wake-up call that Scotland needs.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

Forbes can pick up the pieces

KATE Forbes is the true continuity candidate for First Minister. Christianity was formative in Scotland’s national history, bringing Picts and Scots together under Kenneth McAlpin in 843, inspiring the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, affirming Christian identity at the Reformation in 1560, leading the signing of the National Covenant in 1638, endorsing the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 and supporting the Claim of Right in 1689. It took a Christian to bring interested parties together to form the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989.

Nicola Sturgeon was an aberration. She successfully promoted herself and led the SNP to election victories. She did not govern well, forced a minority "progressive" agenda on Scotland and consequently failed to deliver a significant majority for independence. Ms Forbes can pick up the pieces and take Scotland forward on a more rational and historically consistent pathway.
Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald

Do they think the game's up?

I NOTE that the polling firm engaged to conduct the ballot for the new SNP leader and First Minister has been given the names of 78,000 members ("SNP race sliding into 'paranoia and mistrust' amid vote rigging row", heraldscotland, March 13). This figure is some 50,000 less than that of 125,000 claimed by the SNP in 2019.

Did the missing 50,0000 realise that the game of independence was up? One wonders how many more of those still in membership will have left after watching the three candidates trash each other and the party’s record in government during the hustings.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie

Read more letters: Forbes is a breath of fresh air. It's a pity she chose SNP


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